November 29, 2004
Forget the Titans
by Keith Weiland
If the Texans’ 2004 season were a ride at Astroworld, there would probably be a big sign outside of Bud Plaza that read something like this:
Do NOT endure the Texans’ 2004 season if you are PREGNANT, wear a PACEMAKER, suffer from NECK or BACK injuries or an addiction to either ALCOHOL or PAINKILLERS. This season will take passengers on several upside-down corkscrew LOOPS that will leave most of you questioning the coaches, players, and/or the front office. NOT intended for small children, old folks, or those with a good sense of consistent, quality football. Thanks, Texans Mgmt.
So the season has had a few things we would sooner forget, but it has also had quite a few things worth remembering as well. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Forget the Titans
The Texans swept Houston’s divorcee and sent the Titans to the division cellar for a second time this year. I hope Bud got a pre-nup with the city of Nashville this time. While beating Bud’s Team will always be fulfilling as long as he’s around, we should forget the notion that it signals a meaningful benchmark for the Texans.
The Titans are a 4-7 team, and forgetting for a moment who owns this ragtag group, the Texans should be beating 4-7 teams at home like it’s no big deal if they aspire to be a team knocking on the playoff door.
Remember the Tight End
Like the saying goes, if Billy Miller fell in a forest, would David Carr hear it? Miller had caught no more than one pass in nine of the ten games previous to Sunday’s win. Before catching four passes against the Titans, including one for touchdown, Miller had to be checking himself in the mirror to make sure he was still even there.
Shame on Carr and Offensive Coordinator Chris Palmer for forgetting about Miller’s role in the offense. A tight end with reliable hands can give a cover-2 defense fits, yet Carr and Palmer couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate Miller into the offense until Sunday. With a couple more cover-2 teams left on the schedule, the Texans would be wise to find the Miller amongst the trees.
Remember the Peek
It was curious when DaShon Polk replaced an injured Jay Foreman in the starting lineup against the Titans. Did the Texans forget their training camp experiment where Kailee Wong would shift inside in case of injury, allowing Antwan Peek to join Jason Babin as the other outside linebacker? Hmmm…
Polk, a good special teams player, actually had a nice game subbing for Foreman, collecting five tackles and a fumble recovery, but Peek has proven to be a playmaker for the defense this season. When Peek eventually did enter the game, he pressured McNair and caused a fumble to end a key Titans drive in the fourth quarter.
So why did the coaching staff wait so long to insert Peek into the game? I can agree with the assessment that Peek is a liability against the run, but Peek isn’t going to learn to be a better run stopper on the sideline. If the staff is able to trust Carr’s blindside in allowing inexperienced players such as Chester Pitts and Seth Wand to develop for the last three years, I would think that they could let Peek get more than a couple plays on Sundays, too.
Forget the 129 Rushing Yards
Yes, Domanick Davis made a triumphant return with his 129 yards and a score on the ground against the Titans. And yes, Davis looked better than he had all year, making quicker cuts and even beating defenders around the corner to the sideline.
But keep in mind that the Titans defense started such luminaries as Donnie Nickey and Jared Clauss. They have been ravaged by injuries, and even at full health, the Titans would have problems stuffing a teddy bear. Teams have averaged 4.6 yards per carry against them, putting the Titans in a virtual tie for last place in the conference in that category.
Still, Davis’ play was encouraging, and hopefully it means he’s finally removed the cobwebs from his four lost fumbles in the first two games this season. But you should forget about Davis as the long-term answer at running back. He has yet to prove he can stay healthy all season, and the Texans’ offensive scheme will be better served with a bigger downhill runner.
Forget the Month of November
The Texans nearly went oh-for-November until their second half comeback win over the Titans. They lost three straight games to probable playoff teams. While each loss was disappointing, they were only mind boggling to those who sported steel blue-tinted glasses hoping for a playoff team a year ahead of schedule.
This much we know from the 2004 season so far: the Texans are good enough to beat the bad teams, but bad enough to still lose to the good teams. Sounds to me like the team is right where most thought they would be in Year Three.
Remember the Month of December
The coming month will bring with it four games that will define the Texans’ success or failure in the 2004 season. While it may be possible to deem this year’s campaign a success given that the team has already matched their franchise-best in wins with five games to play, I doubt anyone will be satisfied with another 5-11 final record.
Each of these upcoming games will test the team: A tough road trip to New York to face an 8-3 Jets team that may take a wild card berth, a rematch at home against eventual MVP Peyton Manning and the Colts, a cold roadie to Chicago, then another road game in Jacksonville against a team seeking some Battle Red revenge. While a 2-2 split would be adequate, a winless month certainly seems at least possible, too.
So buckle in for another bumpy month. The Texans proved Sunday though that they can ride out the corkscrew loops, suicide drops, and hairpin turns and still come out on top.
I know I’m game for the ride. Aren’t you?
It should be noted that Keith Weiland is not pregnant, does not wear a pacemaker, is not hurting from neck or back injuries, and does not suffer from addictions to either alcohol or painkillers.
Antwan Peek Home